Our Best Cold Brew Coffee Recipe Is Going to Be a Game-Changer


What is cold brew coffee?

Cold brewing is a slow process without heat, while an iced coffee, is typically brewed the same way hot coffee is, and chilled down. Cold brew is also a more concentrated coffee method, which creates a concentrate that can be diluted with water to your desired coffee. Because of the way it’s brewed, cold brew is also believed to produce a lower acidity and smoother beverage than traditional iced coffee.

What kind of coffee should you use for cold brew?

According to Giuliano, coffee is all about personal taste, and a bag with “cold brew blend” stamped on it is just one company’s opinion of what makes an excellent cold brew. Single-origin beans are great for cold brew, as well as a medium to dark roast. One thing to keep in mind is that the cold brew method enhances richer, chocolaty notes rather than floral or fruity notes that are accentuated by hot-brew methods. Regardless of the type of bean, we recommend you grind the beans yourself. Cold brew works best with a coarser grind.

Can I make cold brew with regular, pre-ground coffee?

Some brands sell coffee beans ground at the right coarseness for cold brew, but otherwise it’s best to coarsely grind your coffee beans at home with a coffee grinder. You can also have your local coffee shop grind your beans upon purchase.

Pro-tip: if you love your local coffee shop’s cold brew, ask them what beans they use and use those for your home brew.

Why should you use coarsely ground coffee?

You want to use a coarsely ground coffee for cold brew because filtration will be easier, reducing the amount of coffee sediment in your cup of cold brew. A finer grind will also clump together, reducing the ability for the water to freely circulate around the grounds and create a good cold brew extraction, it may also make your cold brew more bitter.

What is the best ratio for cold brew coffee?

The ideal ratio for cold brew coffee is a 1:4 ratio. This means that if you want to make a single cup of cold brew use 1/4 cup ground coffee with 1 cup of water or if you want to make a larger batch use 1 cup of ground coffee with 4 cups of water.

How long does it take to make cold brew?

For non-electric cold brew coffee makers, it’s about 12 to 24 hours, and 5 to 45 minutes for electric cold brew makers. Experiment with different steep times to determine which one tastes the best to you.

How do you dilute the concentrate?

Since cold brew is concentrated, most people prefer to dilute it 1:1 with cold water and serve over ice. You can experiment with how strong you want your cup of cold brew, adding different amounts of water. If you prefer an iced latte style cold brew, you can also add cold brew concentrate to milk instead of diluting with water. Or if you prefer a hot cup of coffee, you can dilute your concentrate with hot water as well.

Can you infuse flavor into your cold brew?

You may have noticed that your favorite coffee shop has cold brew infused with different flavors. You can add cinnamon sticks, vanilla extract or beans, chicory root, brown sugar, shredded coconut or even mint leaves into your cold brew while it’s steeping. This will infuse your cold brew with your favorite flavor, without having to use a sugary flavored syrup.

How long can I store a cold brew concentrate?

Opinions on how long you can store cold brew concentrate differ, suggesting anywhere from up to two days to two weeks. Giuliano recommends two to five days, noting that over time the brew will start to oxidize, thereby altering the profile of the coffee. The fridge does slow this process, down, but it’s ultimately unavoidable.

What are the differences between cold brew makers?

There are four main ways to make cold brew coffee

  • French press: If you’re not ready to invest in a cold brew-specific coffee maker, DIY cold brew can be made using a French press. After brewing coffee grounds in a French press coffee maker for up to 24 hours, filter the cold brew from its grounds with the built-in stainless steel filter. Keep in mind that the method may yield a cold brew with sediment, which you could double filter with some cheesecloth.
  • Mason jar or cold brew pitcher/non-electric cold brew maker: There are many non-electric cold brew specific pitchers and makers on the market like the Takeya Deluxe Cold Brew Coffee Maker which allow you to make cold brew, filter out grounds with a fine mesh filter and store cold brew all in one device. However, you can also use any large mason jar or pitcher that you have already and filter the grounds out with a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. This method has yielded full-bodied cold brew in our lab and home testing.
  • Electric cold brew maker: Designed to speed up what is typically a slow process, electric cold brew makers can offer a choice of brew strength and take anywhere from 5 to 45 minutes to brew. In cold brew maker testing, we have found that although faster, electric cold brew makers can fall short in creating the deeply robust flavors that the above methods do.
  • Cold brew bags: Newer to the market, there are companies which offer pre-packaged ground coffee in something that resembles a teabag. No need to choose the right beans, grind them to the correct size and weight them out yourself. You just need to place a cold brew bag into a pitcher or glass of water, let it steep and there you have cold brew coffee with very little mess. While we’ve found this method to be more expensive, it’s great if you want to take the guesswork out of making cold brew coffee at home.
Headshot of Eva Bleyer

Kitchen Appliances & Innovation Lab Reviews Analyst

Eva (she/her) is a reviews analyst in the Kitchen Appliances and Innovation Lab, where she tests kitchen gear, home appliances and culinary innovations. She graduated from NYU with a bachelor of science in food studies, nutrition and public health and is a trained chef through the Natural Gourmet Institute. Eva has more than 10 years of experience in the food industry, working as a food stylist, personal chef and marketing manager.

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